You wake up feeling uncomfortable and uneasy one day and look at yourself in the mirror. All you see is a fat person and wonder “I think I’m fat but nobody else does”. You look at yourself for some more time and say to yourself, “I think I’m fat but everyone says I’m not”. ‘Are people lying to me?”
Now you are confused – I’m fat or not? You wonder if people are telling you the truth. Every time you look into the mirror, you worry you are putting on more weight, or your body looks different. And you start to wonder what this is?
In this article, you will understand what is Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and the reasons we develop BDD. As you read through the article, you will get more information about the signs of BDD. We will also learn how it affects our lives, and ways to cope with it.
Before we proceed, here are some key terms you will come across such as:
- Dysmorphia – feeling like there is a flaw in one or more parts of our body.
- Disorder – An illness that hampers our normal life or functioning.
- Obsession – thoughts that preoccupy our mind about a particular topic. For example, constantly looking into the mirror and thinking ‘I’m Fat!’
What Is Body Dysmorphia Disorder?
All of us are constantly exposed to messages, social media, and news telling us what a “perfect” body looks like. Additionally, we hear comments about our bodies and how we look. The combination of these messages and comments sometimes makes people wonder if they look good. Don’t fit into a small-size outfit – “I’m fat”. Jeans size more than 26 – “I’m fat”. Pimples on the face- ugly. Stomach not flat – fat and ugly. Therefore, when people hear these comments throughout their life, it makes them hate their bodies. As a result of this, every time they look into the mirror, they feel like a misshaped person with all ugly features. While it is normal to look into the mirror sometimes and think of reducing a little weight, obsessing about your body when you are perfectly fine is unhealthy. Therefore, you may feel “I’m fat” when no one else feels so.
Why Do You Feel – “I Think I’m Fat but Nobody Else Does?
People start questioning how they look in their early teenage years. There are various reasons why you may think “I’m fat but nobody else does”. While all of us question how we look from time to time and make changes in our lifestyle, some people are at a bigger risk of BDD than others.
- People having blood relatives with a similar issue about their bodies
- A person who is a perfectionist
- People who have been teased in childhood, neglected, or abused
- A person who tries to live up to pressure or expectations of beauty
- People who have other mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression
What Are the Signs of BDD?
At first, you may ignore people’s comments or messages from social media, but as time passes by, you start wondering if these messages are indeed true. Along with questioning the thought “I’m fat or not”, you start looking at yourself differently.
- Every time you look into the mirror you can only see flaws that others can’t see
- You feel ‘I’m fat or ugly” every time you have a small body issue
- You believe people make fun of how you look
- Try fixing your flaws by undergoing surgery or using a lot of makeup. However, even after this, you are happy
- Being a perfectionist
- Trying to seek assurance from others, but not believing them if they disagree
- Sometimes, people also avoid social situations because they feel they don’t look good.
How Does Thinking – “I Think I’m Fat but Everyone Says I’m Not”, Affect Your Life?
Apart from feeling “I’m fat”; you also try to deal with a lot of negative emotions. Having BDD can stop and disrupt a person’s life. When we believe we don’t’ look good enough, it directly affects our confidence. This can lead to mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and obsessive thoughts. Moreover, we start avoiding social situations because we worry about people’s opinions.
To deal with these difficult emotions people start using drugs, alcohol, and other substances. Sometimes, people stop eating, binge eats and vomit, or miss meals to lose weight. In extreme cases, people start getting suicidal thoughts and engage in self-harm behavior.
Lastly, you may develop health problems such as skin or hair picking. You may develop physical pain due to frequent surgeries.
How Do You Cope with BDD?
The thought – “I think I’m fat but nobody else does” is not just a belief, it goes much deeper. Such thoughts can affect not only your emotions, but also your behavior, and your health.
Coping with Health Issues
First and foremost, avoid diagnosing yourself. If you are constantly putting your hair or skin, it is time to meet a doctor. A specialist such as a psychiatrist will assess your symptoms and give you medicine accordingly. With the help of an expert, you will also learn some coping strategies to handle negative emotions.
Recognize Your Emotions
Make Some Lifestyle Changes
If you always think I’m fat, you may feel upset or angry. Being aware of these negative feelings can be difficult. Recognizing your emotions is the first step to dealing with the problem. If you are feeling upset, but don’t understand why, speak to a close friend, family member, or your doctor. With the help of your doctor, plan simple and achievable goals. First and foremost, avoid skipping any appointments. Secondly, gain as much information as you can about the issues. This will help you cope with any signs that may reappear. Thirdly, avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs especially when you are taking medicine. Lastly, start working out so that you can manage your stress and anxiety.
Find Support and Work on Self-Care
Last but not the least, build a support system for yourself. This will involve keeping a journal, joining a support group, eating healthy, and participating in social activities. Along with these changes, you can join a self-help course which will give you more details about the above-mentioned issues. Courses such as Body Image Concerns and Binge Eating Disorder will help you deal with various negative emotions and give you helpful tips to overcome any thoughts about being fat.